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Evans Erudition in Fine Hands

“The most exclusive wine school in the world – James Halliday


Leonard Paul Evans AO OBE will always be in the front row of any team of world wine professionals.

The mercurial Welshman devoted his life to wine, food, friends and the occasional round of golf. All at a pace that exhausted lesser mortals.

In the sixties when beverage manager at the Chevron Hotel in Sydney’s Kings Cross, he began a wine column bylined Cellarmaster in the Bulletin magazine. At a time when very few Australians bothered to find out how good some of their wines already were, let alone think how great they might be, his thrust was education.

Len Evans This Magnificent Life
Napa, Margaux or Coonawarra. Which would you choose?

A quick example: Sitting next to him at his Bulletin Place restaurant in the seventies your correspondent received a stinging slap on the back of the right hand.

The offending body part was holding a wedge of lemon in readiness to apply the juice to the fish.

“If you now raise that glass of semillon to your nose you will detect vibrant citrus characters which are not there. Always squeeze a lemon with your non-drinking hand” the master said firmly.

I have not squeezed a lemon with my right hand since.

Len Evans This Magnificent Life
Len keeping the troops in line

A modest transfer of knowledge but one of many, large and small, imparted to thousands of enthusiasts with whom he shared a glass and an opinion before he died in 2006.

His legacy lives on in the Len Evans Scholarship, surely one of the most intense educational seminars ever organised.

For the 15th year, twelve elite (youngish) professionals selected from the disciplines of making, selling or serving of wine spend a week tasting and discussing some of the greatest wines ever made anywhere.

Len Evan This Magnificent LIfe
The pressure is on, this is not just a quiet drink

Many of the wines they will never taste again, but their palate memories will be so much brighter for the experience.

This year their tutors were Iain Riggs, James Halliday, Michael Hill Smith MW and Gary Steel.

With such line-ups of teachers and tastings over the years it is no wonder that previous scholars are now in leading positions in wine across the globe.

Len Evans This Magnificent Life
Adam hard at work

The Dux for this year is Adam Cottrell from the City Wine Shop Melbourne. There had to be a winner but all twelve have experienced a truly life changing event. They will take their knowledge to judging panels at Australian wine shows and Adam will be flown to London with introductions to Europe’s great wine houses.

They will go forth as Len’s disciples. Not just for Aussies but for wine-lovers in other countries who will benefit as they travel and talk.

Len Evans This Magnificent Life
The Class of ’15

We are unable to pass on the discussions they enjoyed, and the lessons learned, but merely reading lists of the brackets tasted gives some idea of the magnificence of the event and a mouthwatering tribute to possibilities of the vine.

Prepare to gasp, laugh or cry as you read through the previously tasted Wine Lists in the Archive at

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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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